Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Early universe’s galaxies, trees that water themselves and Active SETI

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; Career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Stars - Recent images from the depths of cosmos show more than 500 galaxies in the early universe, scientists report. See http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060921_young_galaxies.html.
g Abodes - Earth observation scientists at the University of Leicester have been able to measure from space for the first time signals showing the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by plants, in a project hailed by the Natural Environment Research Council as one of its top achievements of the year. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060925070142.htm.
g Life - Trees that live in an odd desert forest in Oman have found an unusual way to water themselves by extracting moisture from low-lying clouds, MIT scientists report. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060912225845.htm.
g Message - Recent discussions within the SETI community have thoroughly explored the issue of whether people with access to radio telescopes should send powerful signals to alien civilizations without some process of prior international consultation. In particular, those exchanges have focused on the question of "Active SETI." See http://www.setileague.org/editor/actvseti.htm.
g Cosmicus - American support remains strong for NASA’s plan to complete the International Space Station, retire its shuttle fleet by decade’s end and move on to the Moon and Mars, according to poll results released Monday. See http://www.space.com/news/060925_coalition_spacepoll.html.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “The Drake Equation.” Students estimate the number of civilizations in the galaxy by first estimating the number of craters on the Moon and then by performing estimates of multiple-variable systems culminating in the use of the Drake Equation. See http://btc.montana.edu/ceres/html/DrakeEquation/Drake.htm.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read H.B. Fyfe’s short story "In Value Deceived," originally published in the November 1950 issue of Astounding magazine.